Şırnak is a city set in the foothills of Mount Judi which rises to a height 2114 metres. According to the beliefs of some Noah's Ark landed on Mount Judi. According to the legend, Şırnak was built by the sons of Noah as a summer settlement. The city's name comes from this legend; "şır" meaning city and "nak" meaning Noah. The original name of Şırnak was Şehr-i Nuh meaning "The City of Noah", later this was turned into Şerneh and it has come down to us as Şırnak.
Cizre is the central district of Şırnak province nowadays but it was just a village in Ottoman times.
The whole province is covered by high mountains, deep river valleys and plateaus. All the rivers are interconnected in the Tigris basin and are tributaries of the Dicle (Tigris) River. The main rivers are: Kızılsu, Hezil and Habur. With the exception of Beytüşşebap and Uludere, the majority of the terrain is steppe. The forests are mainly of oak.
Since the main source of income in the province is animal husbandry, the culture of nomadism was quite common here. The nomads spend their summers in highland meadows and at the top of mountains together with their sheep. In winters they descend to the warmer lowland plateaux. While the men shepherd their flocks, women weave rugs and carpets from the wool obtained from sheep. In recent years the nomads have abandoned this traditional lifestyle due to political and economic factors and they have adopted a more settled life. Since the nomadic culture depends on tribe organization, the kinship based on patriarchy and blood ties are still the main social signifier in the region. The tribes in Şırnak have an introverted and closed structure of economy and society.
For the commemoration of this nomadic culture and important for preserving this culture for future generations the most popular annual event is the Lamb Shearing and Seasonal Plateau Festival in Şırnak . Each year, this festival is held in August on the Beytüşşebap plateau. The festival features local costumes, games, songs, meals of roasted lamb and communal meals eaten in sitting position on the ground called "yer sofraları". Its themes are fertility and generosity and it is one of the finest examples of local culture and hospitality of the region.
Meaning "island" in Arabic, Cizre is built on the banks of the Tigris River. There are plenty of attractions worth visiting here: The Grand Mosque, the Mosque and Tomb of Noah the Prophet, the Mir Abdal Mosque, the Abdaliye Madrasah, the Tomb of Men-u Zin, the Kırmızı Madrasah, Cizre Castle and its Walls, Yafes Bridge, Akabin Bridge, Mehmet Agha Palace and lastly the Museum of İsmail Ebul-iz Al-Jazari are among main.
If you’re short on time you should make Cizre Castle, the Kırmızı (Red) Madrasah and the Tomb of Al-Jezeri your priorities. The Tomb of Al-Jezeri is especially interesting as it the resting place of the first mechanical scientist in history who invented automated machines . It is located in the courtyard of the Mosque of Noah the Prophet. A room of the Ebul-iz Primary School has been transformed into a museum dedicated to this respected scientist.
Other notable sites include: Mount Judi, the Beytüşşebap plateaux, Mor Dodo Church and St. Jacob’s (Mor Yakup) Monastery located in the centre of Idil, the architectural sites of Finik, Babil and Kasrik. If you want to refresh yourself, do not forget to go to the Zümrüt Hot Springs.
In Şırnak, marvellous rugs are woven with wool obtained from animal husbandry (the main source of income in the region) and coloured with natural dyes. Those woven by the Jirki tribe living in the Beytüşşebap district are especially famous. Most of the patterns and motifs used in the rugs symbolise joy, hope, agony and the wishes of the local people. Motifs to look out for include: the star pattern which represents the few stars left in the sky in the crack of dawn, "Gupale Çıldar" expresses the feelings of a woman beaten up by her husband, "Gülbeyan" is inspired by the roses in nature and "Lüleper" expresses the dreams of a gloomy bride forced to live with the groom's family.
Şırnak, the City of Noah, is waiting for adventure-seeking visitors who will experience its thousands of years of history and see the famous Tigris River, its unique plateau culture, its icefalls and Mount Judi.